CONWAY Linda Linn grew up on a dairy farm near Bee Branch, the daughter of Reba Stark and the late Willard Stark. Linn’s husband, Danny, also grew up on a dairy farm.
They were high school sweethearts at South Side High School in Bee Branch and were married in 1965.
“As we crossed the Cadron bottoms north of Conway, both of us said, ‘The first one who mentions buying a dairy cow, it’s grounds for divorce,’” Linn said with a laugh.
Needless to say, the Linns did not go into the dairy-cattle business, but for the last 47 years, Linda Linn has been a businesswoman in Conway.
The Conway Area Chamber of Commerce recognized Linn for her business achievements Dec. 4 at the inaugural Women in Business Awards Luncheon held at the University of Central Arkansas. Linn received the first Diamond Achievement Award, one that recognizes an individual who has had a positive impact on her profession and the community.
Linn is a partner with her husband and daughters, Susan McCoy and Christy Priester, at Linn’s Auto. Inc., which encompasses three separate businesses — OakStreetAutoSales.com, a used car dealership; U-Pull-It of Conway, a used-parts company; and Just Scrap It, a metal-recycling facility.
“I was very humbled and honored to receive the award,” Linn said. “Danny, Susie and Christy and I have a wonderful partnership, and they deserve a lot of the credit.”
“We just started these three new
businesses this year (2012),” Linn said during an interview at the company office on Simon Road in east Conway. “We’ve been on quite a merry-go-round; it’s been quite stressful. The business still has a ways to go, but everything is working out fine.”
The Linns have been in the auto business in one form or another since 1965, when Danny and his brother, Bob, opened up a body shop in Conway. That business evolved into a salvage business in the 1980s, and Danny and Linda bought out Bob’s share of the business in 1985, when Bob opened up an automotive glass shop.
For the last 34 years, Linn’s Auto had contracts with insurance companies for total-loss and borderline vehicles, buying and selling more than 4,000 wrecked vehicles per year. As that contract business came to an end in March 2012, the Linns faced closing the business.
“Our daughters and some of the longtime employees came to us and wanted to talk about some other businesses we might operate,” she said. “That’s how we came up with these three new businesses.”
Linn said she was never one “who wanted to sit home and do nothing.”
She graduated from South Side High School in 1962 and headed off to college, as did Danny.
“We both graduated in the same class, but he is a year older than I am,” she said. “I managed to make two grades in one year when I was in second grade.”
While at the University of Central Arkansas as a business major, Linn worked part time as a secretary in the history department until 1965, when she quit to get married.
“I give credit to UCA,” she said. “I learned a lot there.”
Today, she is a member of the UCA Business Advisory Committee.
During her college years, she also worked as a deputy clerk in the Van Buren County Tax Assessor’s Office during June and July of 1963 and 1964.
Linn found full-time work as a social worker with the Arkansas Department of Social Services in 1965, a job she would continue until 1972.
“You didn’t have to have a license to be a social worker at that time,” she said.
She began a career with the Community Action Program of Central Arkansas in 1975, serving as director of its Head Start program from August 1976 until June 1984. She was also director of its Migrant Head Start program from 1979 until June 1984, when she retired to become an active partner in the family business.
“I traveled three counties — Faulkner, White and Cleburne,” she said. “I just got tired of living out of a suitcase.”
Over the years, Linn has been involved in a number of community organizations — the chamber of commerce, the Conway Noon Rotary Club, the Boys and Girls Club, the Community Foundation of Faulkner County, the Faulkner County Historical Society, the United Way, Bethlehem House, a Bookcase for Every Child, the Conway Symphony Orchestra and many others. She is also active at her church, Calvary Baptist, where she serves on the Planning and Finance Committee.
Linn continues her membership in the Arkansas Automotive Dismantlers and Recyclers Association and the national Automotive and Recyclers Association and is on the advisory board of First Security Bank in Conway.
“My community involvement began back in the early ’90s with the chamber of commerce,” Linn said. “I began working on the Christmas parades, helping with the floats.
“This is such a giving community. When we first moved here, it just became our home. It’s a great place to raise kids and have a business. We feel so fortunate to be here.”
With their three new businesses up and running, Linn said, “I am ready to go back home … for a while.”
She said she and Danny enjoy traveling and hope to do more of that in the future.
“We enjoy going places with the grandchildren,” she said with a smile. “I also like to read and to cook.”